The new Minnesota Children’s Museum is opening in a few weeks and I’m incredibly excited not only for my kids but for myself too (stay tuned for some adults only nights at the museum).
I truly wish I had this opportunity as a child – to explore, discover, and to be completely un-inhibited. To be able to test my limits, tell crazy stories, and be silly in such a safe and supportive environment.
The space is also geared towards educating parents in a very do-able and non-intrusive way about how to support play at the museum and at home – and a great reminder to observe more and let my kids explore and figure things out on their own.
There will be less instructions on “how things work” so be prepared to tinker and explore yourself (this was difficult for me at first as I LOVE instruction booklets and tutorials, but a great lesson in letting go and re-learning how to play as an adult).
One exhibit that I wanted to highlight that’s one of my early favorites (there are 10 total exhibits) is Super Awesome Adventures – an opportunity to be SuperWoman, Batman and every other super-hero in between!
First, there’s the Ninja Laser Maze with a practice bamboo course outside – this is sure to be a hit and a great way to encourage kids to be courageous to test their limits (and test their super spy skills), and be persistent in exploring different possibilities to successfully navigate the maze.
There’s also a Carpet Skate Park – which is an immersive full body experience complete with ramps & bumps so it feels like you are skating in outer space!
For kids who love to tell stories and pretend fly and jump off cliffs – there’s an awesome Green Screen with climbing wall (just like the movies)! This is a wonderful opportunity for kids to work together and collaborate to make-up stories. I find my kids make friends so much more fluidly than I do as an adult, and it’s a nice opportunity to observe how they interact with others.
There’s quite a bit more in this exhibit including Balancing Boards – to avoid the dangers below (crocodiles or lava – the themes will rotate every few months).
This is just ONE exhibit of 10 - there is so much else to explore and discover (including 2 outdoor areas).
And YES - capes are included!
In celebration of the pending opening, I’m giving away a family 4 pack of tickets to explore the museum ($52 value) on Instagram and Facebook. Head on over to Instagram (@tumblewalla) or Facebook (@tumblewalla) for all the details!
1. How to Create a Basic Capsule Wardrobe for Kids: We’re all for sustainability! Check out this mom’s take on simplifying your child’s closet. By Denaye Barahona for Simple Families
2. 20 Books for Kids Not Ready for Harry Potter: Some page-turners aimed at a younger audience for your little adventurers! By Erin Vincent
3. According To Harvard Psychologists: Parents Who Raise “Good” Kids Do These 5 Things: The task of growing our children into good people can be daunting, especially when their world is so different from the one we grew up in. Here are some wise words from Harvard to steer you, and them, in the right direction. From Curious Mind Magazine
4. 'Forest bathing’ is latest fitness trend to hit U.S. — ‘Where yoga was 30 years ago: Let's make this more than just a trend. Here’s to getting outside, connecting with the greenery, and recharging ourselves this summer! By Meeri Kim for The Washington Post, Photo from iStockphoto
5. Short Film ‘Just Breathe’ Helps Kids Deal with Emotions: A little video to help your kiddos cool down and stop hitting their brother through mindfulness. Hah! Definitely worth the four minutes! By Alicia Lutes for Amy Poehler's Smart Girls, Photo from 'Just Breathe'
6. Taming the Toys Could Ignite Creativity: “. . .scarcity rather than abundance sparks creativity.” Ideas on how to maximize kid’s imaginations through minimizing their toy box. By Sanya Pelini for Parent Co., Photo from Getty Images
1. What Americans Keep Ignoring About Finland's School Success: How an emphasis on equity bred educational success. By Anu Partanen for The Atlantic, Photo by Sergey Ivanov
2. Raising Overcomers: How to Teach Your Kids to Do Hard Things: 5 valuable tips to keep your kiddos keeping on! By Katie Westenberg for Motherly
3. The Mysterious Power of Child’s Play: Photographer Mark Neville shares the insights he gained on the importance of playtime while working with children in need. So impactful. By Fiona Macdonald for BBC, Photo by Mark Neville
4. Here’s A List Of Bedtime Books You Actually Won’t Mind Reading 957 Times: No more “Ugh, this one again”s! By Maria Guido for Scary Mommy
5. Video: Birthday Cake Batter Overnight Oats: Yummy, healthy and easy to make? Count me in! By Lee Hersh for Fit Foodie Finds
6. Raising Caring Children: Let’s teach ‘em to spread the love! From Making Caring Common Project for Harvard University
On Monday of this week, the Minnesota Children’s Museum gathered together a group of like-minded play enthusiasts – professors, librarians, bloggers, influencers and moms who all share a passion for injecting more play into our everyday. We also had an opportunity to preview the upcoming exhibits/construction for the new museum which is going to be a blast (more info down below)!
Most participants in the room were in agreement re: the profound benefits of play – it’s a continuous struggle of HOW to squeeze more of it into our days. We’re tired, our kids are over-scheduled, there’s so much home-work and pressure to get-ahead – and the benefits of play don’t always seem as immediate as mastering words on a spelling test. A big takeaway from this seminar was that we absolutely need each other - to help ensure play is always top of mind, and to share what’s working (and what doesn't work so well) for our own families with regards to play.
And so in this spirit – I wanted to share some tips that I’ve found helpful in my own #playmoremn journey:
- One of the major changes I’ve made is to view “play” not as another “to-do,” but as relaxing and a sweet treat for the entire family (e.g. I don't always need to pretend play the myriad of characters from Thomas and Friends). I try to engage my kids in play activities that we ALL find enjoyable – otherwise, it’s easy to default to the TV.
Book Nook: I borrowed this idea from my son’s read-in at school which sounded heavenly (pillows, flashlights, snacks and books for an entire day)! Sometimes I put blankets over our couch and create a make-shift book-nook. The kids find the fort delightful and quickly stock-pile it with books, and I’m able to get some reading time in as well. Perfect for those after dinner "what do we do before bedtime" moments.
Tub of Old Toys: I know some parents rotate toys out each month – this requires a level of organization and planning that I don’t possess. Instead, I pull out toys in the morning (for that same evening) that haven’t been played with for an extended time and viola – the kids have a blast AND I can relax. I enjoy simply observing the kids at play (and working to negotiate with one another) vs. always being an active participant.
Get Moving: This takes some motivation, but once we are moving, it’s worth it. This is why I love dance and movement games (Hullabaloo and Musical Chairs are good ones) as it’s easy – the kids burn off energy and I find it gives me another much needed burst of energy before bed-time.
Early Bed Time: This is my absolute favorite. Getting the kids dressed and ready for bed before 7PM is hugely satisfying (the hard stuff like brushing teeth and baths is out of the way). We than all snuggle up in bed reading books or just being silly (flashlights are awesome for bed-time reading). If they fall asleep – bonus!
I’m trying to make little changes each day – and thanks to this group of Play Enthusiasts and the support of the Minnesota Children's Museum– I have a community to help make this more my reality each day!
...And as I promised in the beginning of this post, expect to be blown away by the new museum – a carpet skateboard park, laser maze, pool noodle forest, stop motion gallery, a fire station and 2 story post-office (even better than the real thing) and amazing outdoor areas – can’t wait for June!
Photo Credit: Minnesota Children's Museum
Photo Credit: Minnesota Children's Museum
Photo Credit: Minnesota Children's Museum
1. A Skeptic Fact-Checks Yoga's Health Claims and Goes with The Om: Don’t be intimidated by your inner yogi! By Ann Finkbeiner for National Public Radio, Illustration by Jenn Liv
2. 12 Children’s Books for Progressive Parents: Sarah Cottrell shares some bedtime reads that can help your little ones expand their worldview. By Sarah Cottrell for Scary Mommy, Photo via Shutterstock
3. Sweet Photo Series Reveals What’s In A Preschooler’s Pockets: A celebration of kids being kids. So cute! By Caroline Bologna for The Huffington Post, Photo by Melissa Kaseman
4. 10 Things Healthy People Do Before Bed: Wishing you sweeter dreams in 2017! By Lindsay Holmes for The Huffington Post, Photo via Getty Images
5. Want to Raise Successful Girls? This TED Talk Recommends Teaching 1 Crucial Skill: Let’s stop pushing perfection and encourage our young ladies to be bold! By Betsy Mikel for Inc., Photo via Getty Images
6. 26 Guacamole Recipes That Make the Classic Dip Even More Delicious (If You Can Believe It): Because who doesn’t love guac?! By Sophia Breene, Photo via She Likes Food
1. Top 20 Best Board Games for Kids: As the weather grows colder and play moves indoors, here are some of the best boards games to keep the whole family having fun! By Bobby Berstein for Heavy
2. Teaching Your Child Emotional Agility: Psychologist Susan David helps build confidence and resilience with four practical steps! By
50 Brilliant Techniques That’ll Calm Stressed Kids Down Immediately Doing y
Step One: Find two pipe cleaners (2 different colors work best)!
Step Two: Fold the first and make a loop a little off center - big enough to fit 2 fingers through...
Step Three: Twist the ends together to secure the loop.
Step Four: Wrap the second pipe cleaner up through the inside of the base of the loop and begin wrapping around the handle in spirals, like a peppermint candy cane!
Step Five: Once you've reached the end of the handle, cut the pipe cleaner with just a little edge left and tuck the end into the spiral to protect any little hands from the pokey ends.
1. Why Some Schools Are Sending Kids Outside Four Times A Day: Recess four times a day?! These schools tried it and discovered more playtime = more focused kids. By Valerie Strauss for The Washington Post, Photo from The LiiNK Project
2. Rice Krispie Treat Pumpkins: Such a cute way to celebrate fall! Bonus: it's way easy By Debbie Chapman,
3. How to Raise Kinder, Less Entitled Kids (According to Science): We love this article - a nice reminder to be a little more understanding. And how to help your kiddos with it, too! By Karen Weese for The Washington Post, Photo from iStockPhoto/WashingtonPost illsutration
4. This School Replaced Detention With Meditation. And The Results Are Stunning: "...The Mindful Moment Room isn't the only way Robert W. Coleman Elementary has been encouraging its kids", see the other cool initiatives they're implementing here. By James Gaines for Upworthy, Photo from Holistic Life Foundation
5. Let Kids Be Kids: Using Adventure And Nature To Bring Back Children's Play: Building that leaf pile is sounding like a better and better idea! By Caliegh Flannigan
6. Boost Self-Esteem With Children's Books About Being Different: Perfect reads to empower your little-ones. Chrysanthemum is one of our all time faves! From What Do We Do All Day?
Every year, I accumulate mountains of summer camp brochures promising enriching, life-changing, once in a lifetime and endlessly fun experiences for my kiddos. Planning 90 days of activities plus coordinating camps with other parents, carpools, pick-ups, and remembering to spray down my kids with bug repellent and sunscreen gets old after week two.
At the end of each summer, I berate myself for signing up for the camp madness, and re-commit to making life easier next year. However, once spring rolls around, my FOMO (fear of missing out) takes over, and I succumb to the happy camper pictures, as I can’t stomach the thought of my child missing out. Not to mention – I love the feeling of getting the summer schedule organized and camp registrations complete – it’s strangely satisfying.
In order to truly re-commit to making life easier for next year – I’ve decided to write down my notes before the rosy haze of post summer “bliss” sets-in, so I remember how everything really went:
1. Anything that's billed as a "Star Wars" camp is over-rated.
Let me translate. "Star Wars" camp is making light sabers out of pool noodles and duct tape, playing "ships across the galaxy" (a clever adaption of "ships across the ocean"), and coloring lots of droids.
2. Shuttling kids sucks - even in the summer. Pick stuff close by.
3. Say NO to anything that requires more than 5+ pieces of equipment.
This includes hockey, baseball, and ice-skating. Trying to dress a small child in sticky, humid weather is not fun. Add another crying kid (or 2) and it gets worse. Stick with soccer, swimming, basketball, or tennis.
4. Camps always involve more parent time than advertised.
Why do week-long camps end with an hour long talent show (during the middle of the day)? Sure – it’s cute – but, is it necessary? If you don’t go, your kid will remember this moment forever, and if you do go, its 2 hours that that I hadn’t accounted for at the beginning of the week that is now causing significant stress.
5. Expensive doesn’t mean better.
Just because you’re asked to shell out more money, doesn’t mean the experience will be 5 stars – kids find joy in simple things. While building elaborate STEM contraptions sounds cool – sometimes, playing with an empty Amazon cardboard box for hours can be even better.
6. Summer Fun Math Camp does not involve much “math” or “fun.”
A three hour intense academic math camp = one hour of eating (lunch + two 15 minute snack breaks), ½ hour free-time on playground, 30 minutes of color-by-numbers, and 30 minutes of math worksheets. I won’t be fooled again.
7. Home is OK too!
I’ve had to be more creative in the summer, as camps can cost a small fortune. Sometimes, I feel guilty about my kids being home so much – but home is their connection point. It’s where they feel safe and grounded. My kids (like us adults) need their downtime – and home is a great place to unwind.
8. Sometimes the best moments are spontaneous.
Despite my type A, plan-everything-always, personality, I find some of our most joyous moments are last minute and easy…fishing (and kissing the fishes), making chocolate brownies, or a surprise run-in with friends at the park (this ALWAYS makes my kids day).
9. If you're not comfortable with the activity planned - don't do it.
Wait another year. Admittedly – a bunch of high-school kids (while completely well intentioned) watching loads of kids especially near water makes me uneasy. Even if everyone else is doing it - if it doesn't feel right - there's always next year.
10. Don’t worry about “falling behind” during the summer.
There is so much more to childhood development than math, reading, science and all the academic stuff – summer is all about exploration and discovery, and of course, play. I know I can easily get caught up in the “what if my child falls behind” mentality – but the reality is, just playing to have fun is critical. Remember, we have the whole school year to fret about “getting results”.
I don’t know if I’ll get swept up in the promise of camp season when next year rolls around, but I know I won’t be making the same mistakes, and, I’ll have a bit more perspective to be able to manage our schedules, and sanity, a bit better.
Our favorite links for August - enjoy!
1. Parents Want Recess For Their Kids. Here's Why They Should Keep Fighting For It.: Kids need breaks from academics, and many kids get less than 20 minutes per day of unstructured recess time - a good read on why we still need to fight for play time. By Heather Shumaker from The Washington Post.
2. DIY Lunchables - Back To School Guide 2016: Love these ideas - especially making your own pizza - easy, kid-friendly, and fun to eat. From Cool Mom Picks.
3. When A Child Thinks Life is Unfair, Use Game Theory: Practical tips for managing sibling scuffles - as parents, we can all relate to the "who gets to press the elevator button" fights. By KJ Dell'Antonia for The New York Times.
4. TED Talk Gever Tulley: 5 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Kids Do: Some of these ideas are beyond my comfort level, but I agree that risk taking is a critical part of childhood development - I'm going to invest in #2 for my son's next birthday.
5. Six Health Benefits of Nature For Very Young Babies: I wish I had known about #4 when my babies weren't sleeping well - good reminders to get out even for wee ones. By Emily Glover from Parent.co
6. 10 Picture Books That Nurture Empathy: These are all such great books about kindness, family love, and nurturing empathy - difficult to choose just one favorite! From What Do We Do All Day.